The college application process can be stressful, especially when you’re applying to multiple schools. It doesn’t have to be though and we’ll explain why here.
Part of the college application process is submitting your standardized test scores, whether it’s the SAT or ACT. If you still need to take one, our SAT prep and ACT prep courses can help you prepare.
Simple College Application Tips At A Glance
Here then are some simple college application tips to bear in mind and use to make the process easier and more successful:
|College Application Tips|
|Start Early - Reduce the anxiety you'll feel while working on the application by starting as early as possible.|
|Always Be Honest - Always be truthful in what you share.|
|Start Your Essay Before The Rest of The Application - The essay often takes more time to finesse than everything else.|
|Brainstorm Your Essay Ideas First - Don't just jump in trying to draft a perfect essay from scratch.|
|Double Check Your Grammar - Make sure your grammar, spelling, and punctuation are as polished as possible.|
|Don't Rush Through The Questions - Don't feel the need to rush through an application's questions all at once.|
|List Your Extracurricular Activities - Pay special attention to those activities that you were deeply involved in.|
|If Something Is "Optional" Think About Doing It - This effort will distinguish you from the pack.|
|Keep Track Of Deadlines - Prep far in advance so you have enough time to tweak your application as much as possible.|
|Read & Follow The Instructions Carefully - Most application mistakes occur because people don't follow instructions.|
|Don't Leave Questions Blank - Do everything possible to avoid any incomplete answers on your application.|
|Carefully Choose Your Recommendations - Reach out to teachers and other officials who know you well.|
|Make Sure Your Essay Honestly Represents You - Make yourself memorable with your words and experiences.|
|Request Multiple Transcript Copies - Every school will want your transcript as one of the first things for review.|
|Make Copies of Everything - You never know again when something could be accidentally lost in transit.|
|Confirm Your Application Materials Arrive - Be sure to contact each school to confirm they have received everything.|
|Don't Wait Until The Last Minute - Take advantage of every bit of extra time possible when you have it.|
College Application Tips In-Depth
There are reasons for every tip we have listed above, learn more below:
Start Early - Reduce the anxiety you'll inevitably feel while collecting and producing the materials/information you're asked for by starting as early as you can. If you already have an idea during sophomore year of schools you want to apply to, then start putting that list together and check their admissions websites for what you need to submit as early as possible.
Always Be Honest - It can be tempting to overembellish your accomplishments since you're trying to present yourself in the best possible light. But ALWAYS make sure to be truthful in what you share. Admissions officers will check on the things you say and if they find you've lied to them, it will ruin your chances.
Start Your Essay Before Filling Out The Rest of The Application - The essay can often be the most time-consuming part of a college application for a lot of kids, both in terms of thinking of what to write and then making sure it is as polished as possible. If you're worried about it then once again, start working on that first.
Think about what you want to write about, how you need to structure it, ask for advice from teachers if necessary. But start that process early, so you can give yourself plenty of time to polish it while handling everything else.
Brainstorm Your Essay Ideas First - Don't just jump in trying to draft a perfect essay from scratch. It rarely works like that for anyone. Instead, write down random ideas and thoughts about the different areas you want to address in your essay as a rough brainstorm. At the very least, you will start thinking in a different headspace, which will eventually link those ideas together in a cohesive way that makes sense.
Double Check Your Grammar - This advice applies not only to your essay but the application itself. Make sure your application is as polished as possible, especially when it comes to spelling, punctuation, and overall grammar. If you submit an application that is riddled with spelling errors, the admissions officer who reads it will notice.
They will then assume that you are lacking in attention to detail and forethought. Look over the document a couple of times and also have someone else look it over too. Don't let silly mistakes slip through because you've missed them when reviewing everything else.
Don't Rush Through The Questions - Don't feel the need to rush through an application's questions all at once. If you need to think about a couple in depth before putting down an answer you're comfortable with then do so. Showing thoughtfulness in your answers will stand out to officials reviewing them.
List Your Extracurricular Activities - Take the time to list all the activities you were a part of during your high school years. Think of what you did and how you were involved. While it's not a bad idea to include everything, pay special attention to those activities that you were deeply involved in or contributed a significant impact. Make sure to highlight those examples because that's what admissions officers want to see - where and what you were most passionate about and how you affected it.
If Something Is "Optional" Think About Doing It - If something is listed as "optional", definitely think about doing it. Whether it's extra questions to answer or perhaps scheduling an in-person interview, these extra actions will distinguish you from the pack and show your commitment to admissions officers' eyes.
Keep Track Of Deadlines - Many early admission deadlines fall between January 1st and February 15th; if you're thinking about going for early admission then make sure to scout ahead on the deadlines early enough to get everything ready by then. Even if you're not going for early admission, it's still a great practice to prep that far in advance so you have enough time to tweak your application as much as possible.
Read And Follow The Instructions Carefully - As silly as it sounds, most application mistakes occur because people filling them out don't follow all of the listed instructions. Take the extra time to read everything clearly and understand it, even if you have to take a moment to call the admissions office itself to get clarification. It's better to do that than miss something important that goes against you immediately.
Don't Leave Questions Blank - Do everything possible to avoid any incomplete answers or blank fields on your application. If you submit one with too much missing information, it will make it appear that either you weren't paying attention or didn't care about following directions properly. Even if you need help or clarification on some, be sure to ask for it and document it, so you are communicating that you are taking the process seriously.
Carefully Choose Your Recommendations - Reach out to teachers and other school officials who know you well, both inside and outside of the classroom. The idea is that they can speak to your character and work ethic as both a student and person. That's why only ask people who you've spent extensive time with.
Don't pick someone who doesn't have that kind of relationship with you, even if they sound impressive on paper, e.g. your high school principal. Give them enough time to write thoughtful recommendations that are genuine and thank them afterward.
Make Sure Your Essay Honesty Represents You - The personal essay is your forum to share your voice and explain why you are worthy of acceptance. Be honest, and as original as you can be. Do what you can to make yourself memorable with your words and share what experiences shaped you up to this point and why they've prepared you for this specific school.
Request Multiple Copies of Your Transcripts - Let your counselor know about the various application deadlines and put in your transcript requests early, so you receive everything on time and can send them all out in your various packages. Every school will want your transcript as one of the first things they review in your application.
Make Copies of Everything - It's never a bad idea to make copies of your completed applications, recommendation letters, essays, transcripts, etc. You never know again when something could be accidentally lost in transit. Even if the worst does happen, you have backups in place to resend if necessary.
Confirm Your Application Materials Arrive - After sending out all of your applications, be sure to contact each school after a few days to confirm that they have received everything as requested. It may take a little time to get all the answers you need, but it's better to be sure rather than assume everything arrived and find out later on that something didn't.
Don't Wait Until The Last Minute - Any hard copy materials should be sent to your schools weeks in advance. This way you have enough time built in for everything to be delivered and initially reviewed. The same thought goes for online submissions as well; you also have enough time to contact each school and confirm receipt of everything again. Take advantage of every bit of extra time possible when you have it.
For more information and tips, check out Prep Expert.
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